Check On Your Neighbour is an on going campaign where we ask residents to take ten minutes out of their day to check on an elderly neighbour or relative and carry out a few simple checks to help reduce risks of fire in their home. Particularly in the winter when the risk of fire can increase.
Through insight work, HFRS established the profile of people who were most at risk from having a fire in their home. Those most at risk tended to be elderly people who lived alone, often smokers or on medication and with some type of physical or mental impairment.
Allen Cunningham, Community Safety Manager for Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, said:
“Winter can be a difficult time for elderly residents as the cold weather sets in and keeping warm becomes a priority. Fire risk in the home can increase due to people smoking indoors to stay out of the cold and using open fires and electric or gas heaters become more frequent.
“There are quick checks people could carry out when visiting an elderly neighbour or relative that really could make a difference to someone’s safety this winter and I urge people to get involved.”
How you could help:
1. Offer to check that your neighbour’s smoke alarm is working – Push the button and make sure the alarm sounds.
2. If your neighbour smokes, remind them to never smoke in bed or when tired, to always ensure cigarettes are fully extinguished in a proper ashtray.
3. Remind your neighbour never to leave cooking unattended and ensure the cooker is turned off before leaving the house or going to bed. Having a timer is a good reminder to turn the cooker off once finished cooking.
4. If they use a portable heater, remind your neighbour not to sit too close as fabric can catch fire. Advise them to not to leave heaters turned on overnight. If they use an open fire, ensure they use a fire guard.
“Obviously, it is important to remind people to remain vigilant and only open the door to people you know and trust. It doesn’t need to take long, but just a quick regular visit can help to ensure our elderly neighbours and relatives are safe.”
The cold weather increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, lung illnesses, flu and other diseases. It can also exacerbate the symptoms of respiratory conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder and Coronary Heart Disease.
As a result the Yorkshire & Humber Public Health Observatory states that there are 191 excess winter deaths per year in Hull. The risks are exacerbated for those people living alone who are over the age of 65.
There are approx. 36,000 people aged 65 and older living in Hull and a recent Public Health survey highlighted that 15% of over-65s in Hull not only live alone but are socially isolated.
If your relative or neighbour lives alone, make sure they are able to turn on their heating or have access to means of warming themselves such as a portable heater or blankets. Keeping warm is keeping healthy.
If you have concerns about a neighbour or relative and to find out if they are eligible for a free home safety visit, please call 0300 303 8242 or visit www.humbersidefire.gov.uk